The Battle of the Battlefields
Many important battles were fought during America's War for Independence. Commemorating these battles helps to remind us of the tremendous risks and sacrifices that American colonists endured as they struggled for their freedom from British control. We know that the colonists eventually won the war, but the road to victory was by no means an easy one. Until the war finally ended, nobody knew for sure that Britain's powerful military forces could ever be defeated. American soldiers outnumbered the British in most battles, but they were inexperienced in the ways of war and poorly supplied with weapons and other equipment. British forces, on the other hand, were well trained and amply supplied by the English government with good-quality weapons, uniforms, and other equipment. The patriots did finally defeat the British, but along the way several battles ended in defeat and many soldiers lost their lives.
Today, these historic battles continue to shape our remembrances of America's struggle to gain independence. For this reason, the President of the United States has decided that the American people (and also visitors from other countries) should have the opportunity to learn more about the major battles of the War for Independence. He has authorized an award of $1,000,000 for the construction of a new museum at the site of the most important battle fought during the war. The main difficulty, the President has discovered, is determining which battle site should get the money. To make the right decision, the President needs your help!
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Your class has been selected by the President to serve as the Battlefield Research Analysis Group (BRAG). He asks that you investigate this matter and recommend one battle as being most important to American victory during the Revolutionary War. As mentioned above, the President will award $1,000,000 for the establishment of a museum at the battle site you choose. The museum is intended to educate people about the major battles of the Revolutionary War -- particularly the battle that your class selects as being most important to the final American victory.
BRAG members will be divided into groups. Each group shall first research one of the battles listed below to determine how it affected the course of the war and contributed to the final American victory. After researching individual battles within the groups, all BRAG members will then meet together to decide which site should receive the $1,000,000 award.
Your social studies textbook is the best place to start looking for information about battles fought during the War for Independence. Other useful books can be found in the library as well.
The internet is another excellent source of information on various aspects of the Revolutionary War. Many of the links shown on SCORE's "War for Independence" page will be helpful. Some additional online resources are listed below. There are still others that aren't shown here, but in order to use them you will need to find out how they can be accessed (this might take some investigation, but it will be worth the effort!).
The web site Revolutionary War (http://www.multied.com/revolt/) provides a good overview of the War for Independence. It includes linking pages that will help you investigate several of the battles we are considering. Map collections, time lines, profiles of important individuals who participated in the war effort -- these are just some of the resources included on this site that you will find useful. It is an excellent place to begin your online research.
The Battle of Bunker Hill
The Battle of Cowpens
Lexington and Concord
The Battle of Lexington
The Battle of Concord
The Battle of Oriskany
The Battles of Saratoga
One valuable source of information could be a school located in an area near the battlefield you are researching.
Posting questions on newsgroups is a good way to get expert answers. One newsgroup where you can take your questions can be found at http://www.news2mail.com/soc/history/war/us-revolution.html.
Posting a message on a mailing list is also a good way to get information. Kidsphere is a popular mailing list where teachers ask and answer questions and discuss various topics. To subscribe, send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org
BRAG's leader (the teacher or appointed person) will first organize the class into groups, and then assign one battle to each group. Before going through the steps described below, each group should review the following questions. These questions are intended to be used as guidelines for your research. Feel free to add to this list any other questions that you think will help guide your research.
Keeping in mind the questions listed above, each group begins by researching the battlefield assigned to it. If computer availability is limited, paper-based resources (text, encyclopedias, and other books) can be used by the groups waiting to go online. Groups using the computers should note for later use those URLs that seem useful. Students using books should write down useful page numbers for later reference.
When the research phase is completed, all groups can meet together to report their findings. Each group should provide details on how the battle they researched played an important role in the American victory. Use stories, pictures, graphs, and other supporting material to help explain the significance of your battle site to other BRAG groups.
When all groups have reported on their battle sites, the BRAG should then reduce the number of battlefields being considered to three. The URLs and book page numbers for each of the three sites chosen as finalists should be displayed (on discs, the board, or on a handout) so that all groups have access to them. Each group should study the web sites and book pages listed for the three finalists, and decide which battlefield they think played the most important role in the war.
The entire BRAG should then meet once again to discuss new findings and decide which battlefield should be awarded the prize.
Each student shall write a summary of the BRAG's findings that will be sent to the President of the United States. Include in your summary several details about how the group decided on a winner, the reasons this battlefield was chosen, and perhaps some recommendations on how the $1,000,000 should be spent.
You might consider doing this activity with another class at your school -- or perhaps with a class from a different town. You could even arrange to do the activity with a group of students living close to one of the battle sites. If you are interested in working with a class from another school, communications can be established via e-mail (see "E-mail Other Schools" above).
It is very important that all BRAG members cooperate with one another while choosing the most suitable battle site for a museum. The activity should not be viewed as a competition, but rather as a challenge for all groups to collectively select the best qualified site. Each group's input is essential so that the final selection can be made with accuracy.
Evaluation will be based upon:
After the BRAG has made its recommendation to the President, each student should carefully consider the three questions listed below. Your teacher might like you to share your thoughts on these questions with the entire class.
Now that you are an "expert" on the major battlefields of the War for Independence, you can discuss your opinions with confidence. Historians have debated the topic of which battle proved most important since the war was fought over two hundred years ago. You might be interested in visiting a newsgroup (see description above) in order to participate in this discussion. Similar debates exist for the major battles of the Civil War, which took place nearly a century after the Revolutionary War. Perhaps you are interested in becoming an "expert" on that subject as well!
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